Turkey's High-Stakes Election Is Still Undecided

Runoff looks likely between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kemal Kilicdaroglu
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2023 5:20 PM CDT
Updated May 15, 2023 6:01 AM CDT
Turkey Could See a Runoff
A person walks past billboards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a day after the presidential election day, in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, May 15, 2023.   (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
UPDATE May 15, 2023 6:01 AM CDT

It looks like citizens of Turkey are going to have to return to the polls in two weeks. With 99.4% of votes counted Monday, neither President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu had the necessary 50% to avert a May 28 runoff, reports the AP. Erdogan had 49%, Kilicdaroglu 45%, and a third candidate 5.2%. The stakes? "Kilicdaroglu has promised to revive Turkish democracy as well as relations with its NATO allies," per the BBC. Erdogan, meanwhile, has ruled in an increasingly authoritarian manner for 20 years. He also has worried the West by remaining close with the Kremlin in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, per the New York Times.

May 14, 2023 5:20 PM CDT

In a tense election being watched by nations all over the world—partly because of its implications for Russia's invasion of Ukraine—the count for Turkey's incumbent president fell below 50% late Sunday night. The Anadolu state-run news agency reported his challenger running at 44%. If neither receives a majority, Kemal Kilicdaroglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will compete in a runoff election in two weeks, the New York Times reports. The Anka news agency, which generally leans toward the opposition, had Erdogan at 49% and Kilicdaroglu at 45% with 95% of ballot boxes counted, per the AP.

The nation's election board said it was giving the count to political parties right away but wouldn't make numbers public until they're final. Polls had shown Erdogan was headed for a close reelection fight, for reasons including discontent over the state of Turkey's economy and concerns that he's steering the nation toward one-man rule. Kilicdaroglu, a coalition candidate, had a slight lead in polls. While the votes were being counted Sunday, per the Times, Erdogan told his supporters on Twitter to "not to leave the polling stations, no matter what, until the results are finalized." Kilicdaroglu posted a similar tweet: "Our ballot observers and officials at the local election boards should never leave their places. We will not sleep tonight, my people." (More Turkey stories.)

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